The science of morality
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18-12-2011, 08:13 AM
RE: The science of morality
(17-12-2011 11:55 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  
(17-12-2011 09:13 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(17-12-2011 09:05 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Again, there cannot ever be any scientific evidence of dualism - equally so, it cannot support materialism, idealism, solipsism, or any other metaphysical position. This obviously doesn't mean all are equally likely, or that it's reasonable to accept any of them, just that we need to be careful that our reasons for rejecting certain metaphysical positions are valid. In other words, our position will be based on philosophical 'evidence'.

I can't agree with the statement that science has nothing to say about dualism. It is conceivable that we can create a brain/mind experiment that will largely prove either dualism of brain and mind or mind as an emergent property of the brain.

So far, the results of brain experiments show no evidence of dualism.

I'm not sure how that would be possible, given that dualism makes no scientific predictions that could separate it from materialism. If the dualist argues that the brain is necessary, but not sufficient, for consciousness or a mind then all of the scientific results that demonstrate the 'emergence' of mind from brain processes would be entirely consistent with the dualist position (i.e. the "brain as a radio" argument).

The difference between the two is that the dualist makes the extra assumption that there is something as well as the brain causing consciousness - but there's no way to test this, because they aren't positing natural processes.

The difference between the two is that the dualist is making things up and defining them as untestable. But anything that interacts with the natural universe is, ipso facto, part of the natural world. If it doesn't affect the natural world, it may as well not exist.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 01:08 PM
RE: The science of morality
(17-12-2011 04:21 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(17-12-2011 12:32 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  We know that both spirit & body have mutual constant influences with each other , so, no wonder that if some ereas of the brain are damaged whose normal function is x , the correspondent erea in the mind gets "blocked " because it loses its material vehicle :

If regions of the brain are damaged whose function is language for example , to make it simple , one cannot talk , but that does not mean that language is only a matter of the material brain or biology
The evidence quite strongly indicates that the processes are brain-based, and give no evidence in favor of 'spirit'.
Quote:Besides : the intellect or mind or consciousness or whatever you wanna call it cannot be the product of evolution, it can evolve but it cannot be the product of evolution, the latter that's just an abstract apprehending of reality by the first = consciousness cannot be the product of its own abstract apprehending of reality
This is your opinion, since you don't provide any support. Science has found no evidence of a spirit, no dualism. If you would like a cogent theory of mind as an emergent property of the brain, please read The Mind's I, by Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel C. Dennett.
Quote:You, guys , gotta learn to make the difference between materialism as an Euro-centric prescriptive speculative interpretative ideology & between the material nature of science +scientific facts

I can tell you more about the matter from the neo-darwinists ' optics such as those of Dennet , Dawkins & co than you probably can ever imagine , so

Thanks, appreciate indeed
And you, sir, need to reduce the confrontational tone and wording.

That's no confrontational tone , sir : that's just outrage at the fact that materialism presents & imposes its ideological speculative interpretative prescriptive unnuanced non-sense as ......descriptive scientific facts
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18-12-2011, 01:23 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 01:08 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(17-12-2011 04:21 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(17-12-2011 12:32 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  We know that both spirit & body have mutual constant influences with each other , so, no wonder that if some ereas of the brain are damaged whose normal function is x , the correspondent erea in the mind gets "blocked " because it loses its material vehicle :

If regions of the brain are damaged whose function is language for example , to make it simple , one cannot talk , but that does not mean that language is only a matter of the material brain or biology
The evidence quite strongly indicates that the processes are brain-based, and give no evidence in favor of 'spirit'.
Quote:Besides : the intellect or mind or consciousness or whatever you wanna call it cannot be the product of evolution, it can evolve but it cannot be the product of evolution, the latter that's just an abstract apprehending of reality by the first = consciousness cannot be the product of its own abstract apprehending of reality
This is your opinion, since you don't provide any support. Science has found no evidence of a spirit, no dualism. If you would like a cogent theory of mind as an emergent property of the brain, please read The Mind's I, by Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel C. Dennett.
Quote:You, guys , gotta learn to make the difference between materialism as an Euro-centric prescriptive speculative interpretative ideology & between the material nature of science +scientific facts

I can tell you more about the matter from the neo-darwinists ' optics such as those of Dennet , Dawkins & co than you probably can ever imagine , so

Thanks, appreciate indeed
And you, sir, need to reduce the confrontational tone and wording.

That's no confrontational tone , sir : that's just outrage at the fact that materialism presents & imposes its ideological speculative interpretative prescriptive unnuanced non-sense as ......descriptive scientific facts

I will freely admit that I have no idea what that statement means; it just sounds like pretentious nonsense.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 02:10 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 08:07 AM)Malleus Wrote:  Well, in many cases, lack of evidence counts as evidence.

Back to your gremlin example, apparently they exist on every significant space object, both the ones which are populated and non-populated. In fact, to fit the story, the same gremlins or other invisible intangible beings need to be doing something all over the universe to keep every planet in its orbit, to keep all the galaxies working and everything. The gremlins on the moon are fewer and/or weaker, because there is lower gravity there. On Saturn and Jupiter, they are stronger/more of them. And the more we think about it, the more complicated the gremlin story needs to get while the science needs only extrapolations of the same rules for the same explanations.

Exactly - the scientific theory is more parsimonious. Doesn't make it any more likely to be "true" though, just more useful to us.

(18-12-2011 08:07 AM)Malleus Wrote:  Since we're talking imaginary creatures here, I'm sure you can come up with an explanation for the lack of proportion between the complexity required by two theories that you claim are equally valid and should be working hand in hand and should be explaining the same things at the same time.

If the gremlins love to behave in ways consistent with gravity, then there is no lack of proportion.

(18-12-2011 08:07 AM)Malleus Wrote:  However, I disagree that science rejects the supernatural *only* because they can come up with a simpler explanation.

If I implied that then I didn't mean to. Science rejects the supernatural by necessity, as science is the study of the natural world. It has no means or way of studying possible supernatural entities. This doesn't mean that the supernatural exists, or that it's even a coherent concept, but the point is that if the supernatural did exist, we'd have no way of testing it.

To put it another way, suppose one day something when wrong with the universe and suddenly all the invisible gremlins became visible and we could talk with them, but the next day they disappear again. We would know now that gremlins existed, but science would still reject them from their theories because they cannot be studied.

(18-12-2011 08:07 AM)Malleus Wrote:  The more science advances, the old supernatural tales have less and less explanatory power and they need to increase in size and complexity until they reach religion-size and sooner or later you are forced to come up with all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing gremlins. (I believe I just made a point for the possibility of religion to evolve as a by-product of our curiosity)

Well, by definition, supernatural tales have no explanatory power in terms of science. They are untestable and unfalsifiable in terms of science.

(18-12-2011 08:07 AM)Malleus Wrote:  Most of the time the supernatural is unbelievable. Literally. It's almost impossible to make yourself believe it enough to try to study it. I'm not lazy, but give me a good excuse to start looking in that direction.

Oh don't get me wrong, I don't believe in the supernatural either. As touched on above, I don't even think it's a coherent concept. However, I am a science geek so I'm wary about trying to extend it beyond its intended scope - i.e. the natural.

(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  The difference between the two is that the dualist is making things up and defining them as untestable.

Yes and no. Some dualists might be doing this (I don't know what they're thinking when they come up with their arguments), but dualism is necessarily untestable. It's a metaphysical position, it can't be tested by science.

(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  But anything that interacts with the natural universe is, ipso facto, part of the natural world.

Only if it interacts with the world in observable and measurable ways. If it interacts with the world in ways indistinguishable from other processes, then it cannot be studied. For example, if we assume that god interacts with the world by tinkering with the initial conditions in ways that entirely natural processes will produce the desired result that he wanted 14 billion years later, then we have no way of testing this despite the fact that not only did this god interact with the universe, but he would have created the entire thing.

(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  If it doesn't affect the natural world, it may as well not exist.

Arguably true, but this would be a philosophical argument, not a scientific one - which is the only point I really wanted to make. As a problem for this approach though, we have to reconcile this with the realisation that science regularly rejects things that appear to affect the natural world because alternate theories are more simple.
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18-12-2011, 06:36 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 02:10 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Only if it interacts with the world in observable and measurable ways. If it interacts with the world in ways indistinguishable from other processes, then it cannot be studied. For example, if we assume that god interacts with the world by tinkering with the initial conditions in ways that entirely natural processes will produce the desired result that he wanted 14 billion years later, then we have no way of testing this despite the fact that not only did this god interact with the universe, but he would have created the entire thing.
If it does not interact in observable ways, then it may as well not exist. We don't know how the universe came into existence, but the idea of a god that started it all and walked away is unprovable because it is unobservable. It is an unnecessary hypothesis.
Quote:
(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  If it doesn't affect the natural world, it may as well not exist.

Arguably true, but this would be a philosophical argument, not a scientific one - which is the only point I really wanted to make. As a problem for this approach though, we have to reconcile this with the realisation that science regularly rejects things that appear to affect the natural world because alternate theories are more simple.
When there is a coherent, consistent explanation that explains all the observations then science rejects those imagined things - they are unnecessary and not known to exist.
Why would I posit demons or Russell's teapot or the invisible dragon in my garage when the observations would be identical if those things didn't exist?

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 06:46 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 06:36 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 02:10 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Only if it interacts with the world in observable and measurable ways. If it interacts with the world in ways indistinguishable from other processes, then it cannot be studied. For example, if we assume that god interacts with the world by tinkering with the initial conditions in ways that entirely natural processes will produce the desired result that he wanted 14 billion years later, then we have no way of testing this despite the fact that not only did this god interact with the universe, but he would have created the entire thing.
If it does not interact in observable ways, then it may as well not exist. We don't know how the universe came into existence, but the idea of a god that started it all and walked away is unprovable because it is unobservable. It is an unnecessary hypothesis.

Exactly. But the important part here is to understand that science has not disproven the concept of god (or the unobservable, immeasurable entity), and it hasn't even given us a reason to doubt its existence, it has simply rejected it from the field of science.

(18-12-2011 06:36 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:
(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  If it doesn't affect the natural world, it may as well not exist.

Arguably true, but this would be a philosophical argument, not a scientific one - which is the only point I really wanted to make. As a problem for this approach though, we have to reconcile this with the realisation that science regularly rejects things that appear to affect the natural world because alternate theories are more simple.
When there is a coherent, consistent explanation that explains all the observations then science rejects those imagined things - they are unnecessary and not known to exist.
Why would I posit demons or Russell's teapot or the invisible dragon in my garage when the observations would be identical if those things didn't exist?

You wouldn't because they would make scientific investigation of your topic very difficult and send you down endless, fruitless avenues.

But, as I'm trying to point out, there is a difference between the statement:

"It is not useful to posit X as an explanation in science"

and

"X does not exist".
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18-12-2011, 06:56 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 06:46 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 06:36 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 02:10 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Only if it interacts with the world in observable and measurable ways. If it interacts with the world in ways indistinguishable from other processes, then it cannot be studied. For example, if we assume that god interacts with the world by tinkering with the initial conditions in ways that entirely natural processes will produce the desired result that he wanted 14 billion years later, then we have no way of testing this despite the fact that not only did this god interact with the universe, but he would have created the entire thing.
If it does not interact in observable ways, then it may as well not exist. We don't know how the universe came into existence, but the idea of a god that started it all and walked away is unprovable because it is unobservable. It is an unnecessary hypothesis.

Exactly. But the important part here is to understand that science has not disproven the concept of god (or the unobservable, immeasurable entity), and it hasn't even given us a reason to doubt its existence, it has simply rejected it from the field of science.

But you are missing the essence of the concept of evidence. If you make a claim. then it is up to you to provide the evidence.
That which is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Quote:
(18-12-2011 06:36 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:
(18-12-2011 08:13 AM)Chas Wrote:  If it doesn't affect the natural world, it may as well not exist.

Arguably true, but this would be a philosophical argument, not a scientific one - which is the only point I really wanted to make. As a problem for this approach though, we have to reconcile this with the realisation that science regularly rejects things that appear to affect the natural world because alternate theories are more simple.
When there is a coherent, consistent explanation that explains all the observations then science rejects those imagined things - they are unnecessary and not known to exist.
Why would I posit demons or Russell's teapot or the invisible dragon in my garage when the observations would be identical if those things didn't exist?

You wouldn't because they would make scientific investigation of your topic very difficult and send you down endless, fruitless avenues.

But, as I'm trying to point out, there is a difference between the statement:

"It is not useful to posit X as an explanation in science"

and

"X does not exist".

But I have not said "X does not exist".
I have said that you have provided no evidence of X - and the burden of proof is on you making the claim.
I can dismiss the existence of something for which there is no evidence.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 07:13 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 06:56 PM)Chas Wrote:  But you are missing the essence of the concept of evidence. If you make a claim. then it is up to you to provide the evidence.
That which is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

I'm not missing it at all - I'm just highlighting the fact that "evidence" is not limited to "scientific evidence". So just because science has found no evidence of dualism, this firstly does not mean that science has disproven dualism, and secondly it does not mean that there is no evidence for dualism.

(18-12-2011 06:56 PM)Chas Wrote:  But I have not said "X does not exist".
I have said that you have provided no evidence of X - and the burden of proof is on you making the claim.
I can dismiss the existence of something for which there is no evidence.

You certainly can. You can even dismiss the existence of something for which there is lots of evidence, such is our prerogative. But this doesn't change the fact that saying that a tool designed to study the natural cannot find any evidence of the supernatural is a meaningless assertion.

The point is just that evidence for materialism, or dualism, or idealism, or whatever metaphysical position we prefer, cannot come from science. Science can no more do these things than my hammer can mow my lawn, and to find that my hammer cannot mow lawns would not give us any reason to suppose that lawns cannot be mown.
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18-12-2011, 07:26 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 07:13 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 06:56 PM)Chas Wrote:  But you are missing the essence of the concept of evidence. If you make a claim. then it is up to you to provide the evidence.
That which is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

I'm not missing it at all - I'm just highlighting the fact that "evidence" is not limited to "scientific evidence". So just because science has found no evidence of dualism, this firstly does not mean that science has disproven dualism, and secondly it does not mean that there is no evidence for dualism.

(18-12-2011 06:56 PM)Chas Wrote:  But I have not said "X does not exist".
I have said that you have provided no evidence of X - and the burden of proof is on you making the claim.
I can dismiss the existence of something for which there is no evidence.

You certainly can. You can even dismiss the existence of something for which there is lots of evidence, such is our prerogative. But this doesn't change the fact that saying that a tool designed to study the natural cannot find any evidence of the supernatural is a meaningless assertion.

The point is just that evidence for materialism, or dualism, or idealism, or whatever metaphysical position we prefer, cannot come from science. Science can no more do these things than my hammer can mow my lawn, and to find that my hammer cannot mow lawns would not give us any reason to suppose that lawns cannot be mown.

Please tell me what constitutes evidence that is not scientific evidence. I think this is close to the heart of the difference.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-12-2011, 07:38 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 07:26 PM)Chas Wrote:  Please tell me what constitutes evidence that is not scientific evidence. I think this is close to the heart of the difference.

Evidence is basically anything which can be used to support a proposition. 'Scientific evidence', on the other hand, is specifically the kind of evidence which is empirical (and usually used to support scientific theories).

Since the topic is morality, let's bring it right back to the original topic. What kind of evidence do you think ethicists use to support different moral systems? Do they do empirical tests, employ falsificationism, etc? Of course not, because morals are not something which can be determined scientifically*. But this doesn't mean that we can just accept any old assertion, or that we can reject the entire field as a whole because it doesn't have any "(scientific) evidence" to support it. Instead, we collect evidence in the form of logic, rational arguments, consistency, etc, in the same way mathematicians find evidence for their work (i.e. mathematicians obviously don't collect scientific evidence).

Metaphysics (materialism, dualism, etc) is something, like ethics, which is outside of the scope of science. This is because, as I mentioned above, science is predicated on the assumption of methodological naturalism. This means that it can only ever find evidence in 'favour' of naturalism and can never find evidence of supernaturalism, or dualism, etc. This isn't a problem with science, it's actually one of its strengths in that it limits its scope to only that which can be studied, that which is useful and meaningful to us. The problem is only when people try to misuse the tool to try to support their own agenda. So to say that science finds evidence "for" naturalism and finds no evidence for dualism is a circular argument - of course it doesn't find any evidence for dualism because, by its very nature, it cannot ever find evidence for dualism.

*The determination of values that is; of course descriptive morality can be studied (e.g the moral psychology) and science can inform morality once values have been determined.
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